Getting Christmas Presents When You Have No Money

December 1, 2011 Posted by kfoutz

Having no money sucks, but it especially sucks when you need to buy a bunch of Christmas presents and you can’t. Rather than throwing a temper tantrum or freaking out beyond belief, you just need to put your creative hat on. You can make gifts for Christmas without having to spend much money at all, and most of the time, those gifts go over better than material objects. If you’re scrounging by week to week to pay the bills, the tips below will help you give Christmas gifts without taking out more student loans. You can still make your Christmas enjoyable, even if you don’t have a software engineer salary to rely on.

The Gift of Free Labor

You may be amazed by how much people appreciate getting good old elbow grease for Christmas. I’m not talking about actually collecting the grease from your elbow for a few months. That’s just plain gross. By this, I’m referring to work in place of giving someone Christmas gifts. Offer to put up your relatives’ Christmas decorations or help a friend fix his or her car. By putting out a little labor, you can make up for your lack of money.

Sometimes this is actually much more helpful than a gift you might have gotten a person. I would rather have a snow shoveled driveway than another tacky striped sweater myself, and I know I’m not alone. You may be surprised by just how much people like getting Christmas gifts in the form of free labor. Give it a try and see if it works for you.

Poems and Songs

If you’re looking for a gift for that special someone in your life, you may have success with a simple poem or song. This is especially true for men because women are more susceptible to mushy-gushy charm. One of the best gifts my husband ever gave me was a poem he wrote for me, and I still know the words to it to this day. You could use something like this in your favor if you just put your mind in the right place. Write from the heart, and your loved one is sure to respond to it.


You may have friends out there that are just as broke as you are. Why not confront them about it to save both of you from spending money you don’t have? A friend of mine did this once, and he basically said, “Hey, I don’t have much money, and I’m not going to like anything you get me. Let’s cut the crap and just spare the gifts this year – ‘kay?” As frank as that was, it spared both of us from having to buy gifts for the other person. I certainly appreciated the honesty and the savings that came from it. You could work out the same kind of compromise with people in your life, and then you would be able to avoid the stress of Christmas altogether.


Christmas is supposed to be a time to enjoy making memories with your family. It shouldn’t be something you stress about for weeks on end because you can’t afford to buy gifts. If you have very little money to work with, just think outside the box. The economy is crap right now anyway, so most people are struggling to make ends meet. Just make an effort to spend time with your family, and that can be a gift enough. We all may need to do that for a change. Maybe if we get over the hype of Christmas gifts, we can all learn to appreciate the holiday for what it truly is.

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